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Santa Monica's Police Force Celebrates 125th Anniversary
 

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By Jorge Casuso

May 18, 2021 -- On May 18, 1896 -- 17 days before the first Ford automobile was completed in a brick woodshed in Detroit -- the Santa Monica Town Trustees formed the city's Police Department.

Since then, the ranks have grown from half a dozen officers patrolling a growing City of some 3,000 to a force of some 220 covering a City of more than 93,000 residents and nearly 10 million annual visitors.

The Santa Monica Police Dapartment in 1907
The Santa Monica Police Department in 1907 (Courtesy of SMPOA)

To commemorate the 125th anniversary of the force, Santa Monica police personnel began wearing replicas of the Department's original patches for 90 days starting today.

The Town Trustees' vote to form a force launched "what would prove to be this Police Department’s tradition of dedicated service to the Santa Monica community," said Interim Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks.

"Since its inception, the SMPD has been on an evolutionary trajectory," Seabrooks said.

"Today, we are a diverse organization, made up of individuals, from all walks of life, and having many different experiences."

According to the Santa Monica Police Officers Association (POA), the city's police force has a far greater percentage of minorities than the city's general population.

Today's police union is 43 percent white (compared to 70 percent of the population), 36 percent Latino (compared to 13 percent), 12 percent Black (compared to 4 percent) and 9 percent Asian (the same as the general population), according to union and census data.

Ten percent of the union membership is composed of women, and 57 seven percent has at least a bachelor's degree.

There are officers on the force who speak Farsi, German, Spanish French, Korean and Chinese, according to the POA.

In her anniversary message, Interim Chief Seabrooks –- who in 1982 became SMPD's first Black female patrol officer –- extolled the Department's values.

"We work tirelessly to build and maintain our community’s trust through our commitment to accountability and transparency," she said.

"We are committed to our organization’s values of integrity, courage, accountability, innovation, and respect," she said.


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